The Asphalt Jungle is a study in crime, hard-hitting in its expose of the underworld. Ironic realism is striven for and achieved in the writing, production and direction. An audience will quite easily pull for the crooks in their execution of the million-dollar jewelry theft around which the plot is built.
W.R. Burnett’s lusty novel about criminal types, from the cheap hood to the mastermind, provided the punchy basis for the script. The actual heist is a suspenseful piece of filming, as is the following police chase and gradual disintegration of the gang.
Sterling Hayden and Louis Calhern star as contrasting criminals, the former a mean, bitter hood who dreams of restoring an old Kentucky horse farm, and Calhern a crooked attorney who needs money to continue sating his desire for curvy blondes and high living.
1950: Nominations: Best Director, Supp. Actor (Sam Jaffe), Screenplay, B&W Cinematography